Charge dropped for Homestead police sergeant accused of cover-up



Prosecutors on Monday dropped a criminal charge against a former Homestead police sergeant once accused of covering up an attack on a man outside a bar.

Lizanne Deegan, 46, had been accused of failing to write a report about an attack by a fellow officer on a patron outside Celio’s Latin Quarter in February 2011.

Deegan was one of three of Homestead officers arrested in July 2012 for their involvement in alleged attacks outside the bar, frequented by South Miami-Dade’s migrant and agricultural workers.

Homestead later fired all three officers.

Deegan was the supervisor over Officer Giovanni Soto, who prosecutors said struck a drunk patron, causing a significant cut to his lip, then struck him again on the hand.

The man, Hugo Yaquiyos, went to a friend’s house and called 911. Soto arrived and took the man home.

But Yaquiyos, still intoxicated, called 911 again to complain. Homestead police “picked him up and dropped him at his house like a dog,” according to a prosecutor’s memo.

Deegan responded to the home, took photos of the man and waited with him while paramedics arrived. At a local hospital, Deegan interviewed the man, gave him a case card and her phone number.

Soto was charged with felony battery and official misconduct, while Deegan was charged with official misconduct.

But prosecutors, in a memo released Monday, said they could not prove that Deegan acted with “corrupt intent” in failing to write a report on the episode or report it to the intern affairs bureau.

And as prosecutors prepared for a possible trial, Yaquiyos — who was drunk at the time and never called Deegan to follow up — had trouble remembering the case.

Miami-Dade prosecutors decided to drop the charge in exchange for a donation to a crime victims’ organization. Deegan is appealing her firing.

“Sgt. Deegan is thrilled and gratified that this long ordeal is finally over and that she is vindicated,” said her attorney, Richard Sharpstein.

As for Soto, who told investigators conflicting versions of what happened, he accepted a guilty plea to a misdemeanor battery charge while agreeing to not appeal his firing from the Homestead police department. The conviction will not appear on his criminal history.

The third officer arrested, Jeffrey Rome, accepted a plea deal in June. He pleaded to two misdemeanor battery charges and agreed to give up his police credentials. The convictions will not appear on his criminal record.

Homestead internal affairs detectives said they secretly video recorded Rome pepper-spraying a man, and dragging an elderly man to the ground and kicking him unconscious. Prosecutors also said Rome pepper-sprayed another man in the face, handcuffed him to a fence and sent away an ambulance that the man had called for.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

A sign stands at 1448 NW 103rd St. in Miami to let passers-by know the government demolished the house even though the owner was on active military duty.

    Miami-Dade County

    Miami-Dade demolished active-duty soldier’s home

    A federal judge ruled last week that the county should have delayed building-code violation proceedings against the soldier when he asked for a stay while he was in Iraq.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category